Friday, May 27, 2016

Late night TV on Trump vs. Sanders debate

After I found out yesterday that Trump had finally collected a majority of delegates to the Republican convention, so he is now officially the presumptive nominee, I searched YouTube for an appropriately comedic reaction.  I found one in Stephen Colbert's Here's What Put Donald Trump Over The Top, although I've always thought Trump was over the top.

Hearing the news that Donald Trump has clinched the Republican nomination puts Stephen in the fetal position.
Yeah, Stephen, I wanted to lie down on hearing the news, too.

As viewers can see and hear, Trump's earning the nomination may have had top billing in the monologue, but it wasn't alone on stage.  The possibility of Sanders debating Trump shared the limelight and showed even more comedic potential.

One of the people responsible for the idea was Jimmy Kimmel, who had Trump and Sanders on as guests on consecutive nights.  Wednesday, Donald Trump told Jimmy he is willing todebate Bernie Sanders.

Donald Trump shares his opinion on the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and agrees to debate Sanders under one condition.
The next night, Jimmy asked Senator Bernie Sanders about debating Trump.

Senator Sanders talks about the possibility of debating Donald Trump and competing against Secretary Hillary Clinton in California.
Jimmy even has an idea of what a Trump-Sanders debate would look and sound like.

Recently we showed what it looks like if you play Donald Trump at half-speed. We tried it with Bernie too, but it wasn’t as good. Then we slowed Trump down and sped Bernie up and Jimmy thinks that if they end up debating, he’d love it to go something like this.
It turns out that Comedy Central has already had their simulated Trump-Sanders debate back in March.

Bernie Sanders (James Adomian) and Donald Trump (Anthony Atamanuik) debate their likeness to Jesus and launch attack ads in the @midnight presidential debate.
A real debate would be more substantive, but it wouldn't be as funny.

As for whether it's a good idea, I'm not sure.  If it's bad for Clinton, she should debate Sanders one last time instead.  If it's good for Clinton, she should continue what she's doing, which is ignoring Sanders.  On the other hand, it would make for great TV.  Stay tuned.

ETA: Vox reports Never mind, Donald Trump doesn't want to debate Bernie Sanders after all.  Oh well, it was too good to be true.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Governor Snyder declares energy emergency in Michigan

I predicted "that price increases will likely stall out next week, at least until the Memorial Day weekend" in WXYZ on rising gas prices for May.  That didn't happen.  Instead, shows that the Detroit average jumped 12 cents to $2.47 on top of the previous week's 11 cent rise.  That was enough to prompt Governor Rick Snyder to declare an energy emergency, as WOOD-TV reported day before yesterday.

Gov. Rick Snyder issued the order as the state faces a potential gasoline shortage ahead of the long Memorial Day weekend.
I share Patrick DeHaan's skepticism about the effectiveness and timing of the order.  I expect the price increase to moderate before the weekend as well.

WXYZ also covered the issue.  While WOOD-TV focused on expert analysis, WXYZ went with their strength, reactions from people on the street.

Governor Rick Snyder has declared an energy emergency to combat rising gas prices going into the Memorial Day weekend.
People look and sound a little worried, but only a little.  This is more of an inconvenience than an emergency.

As for the situation after the holiday weekend, I expect prices to continue rising.  Oil-Price.Net lists yesterday's closing prices for WTI as $49.56 and Brent as $49.74.  Not only are those both above last Friday's $47.75 and $48.72 for Brent, WTI has set a new high for the year, while Brent is only a few cents below its high for the year, which it set last Wednesday, when WTI hit $48.95 and Brent hit $49.85.  The only good news is that RBOB closed yesterday at $1.64, exactly the same as it was last Friday and still two cents lower than its peak earlier this year at $1.66, a nine-month high.  That's probably why the U.S. average has only moved up a few cents from $2.28 to $2.31 over the past week.  It's also why I expect prices at the pump to decline a bit when the refinery and pipeline issues are fixed before rising again in late June and early July.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Census finds Detroit still shrinking in mid-decade estimate

Last week, the Census Bureau released its annual population estimates for 2015.  The results were generally predictable and so were the reactions.  WXYZ's response was to report Detroit out of top 20 cities.

Detroit's population decline has now pushed it out of the top 20 cities.
While the ongoing story of Detroit shrinking is the same one that I've been covering since the second post on this blog, I'm glad to note the good news that Downtown, Midtown, and the riverfront are growing and the rate of population loss is slowing.  When I wrote "It's an exciting time to live here, and I wouldn't miss it for the world" in April 2011, this is the kind of development, pun intended, I was hoping for.

MLive also covered this story, noting Denver knocks Detroit off list of 20 most populous U.S. cities and provided the following table.

Detroit didn't just fall behind Denver last year, it dropped below Seattle, too.  El Paso passed Detroit a year earlier.  The next cities to grow larger than Detroit proper will be Washington D.C. and Boston.

Not all the population news was bad, that is, if one favors population growth.  Fox 47 reported Lansing's Population is Growing.

Most cities in Michigan are losing population. But Lansing is one of the few that's actually growing.
Lansing is not alone.  MLive published a slideshow listing the five biggest gainers and losers in the state.  It lists Macomb Township, Novi, Shelby Township, Dearborn, and Southfield in the top five, along with Clinton Township and Canton Township gaining more than 3,000 people since 2010, followed by Lyon Township, which had the highest five-year percentage population growth rate of any municipality in the state, then Hamtramck, Pontiac, Sterling Heights, Farmington Hills, Birmingham, Rochester Hills, and Troy.  Detroit may be shrinking, but its suburbs are still booming.

So is Grand Rapids, as MLive reported.
Among Michigan's six cities with more than 100,000 people, Grand Rapids saw the biggest increase. Its population was estimated at 195,097 in 2015 -- up 848 people from the previous year.

Since 2010, Grand Rapids' population has increased by 7,043 people, or 3.7 percent. The only other place in Michigan with a bigger increase during that same period is Macomb Township, which grew by 7,299 people.
That growth is showing up in a boom in housing downtown, as WOOD-TV reported Downtown GR in the middle of ‘gangbuster economic moment’.

It doesn’t take an expert to look around and see the cranes dotting the Grand Rapids skyline and realize we are a growing city.
Detroit isn't the only big city in Michigan experiencing a revival of urban living.  As for a goal of 10,000 housing units in downtown Grand Rapids, that's ambitious, but I'm still in favor of it.  It will reduce sprawl and all its ills.

For more on this story, MLive has an interactive map showing population gain and loss for all municipalities in Michigan.  Have fun playing with it; you might learn something.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CNN and MSNBC interview Libertarian candidates William Weld and Gary Johnson

Over the weekend, Paul W. mentioned that the Libertarian national convention would be in Orlando this weekend and linked to Libertarian Gary Johnson picks former Mass. governor for VP at Politico.  I had the following reaction.
As for [William] Weld running with Johnson, that's a very serious ticket should the Libertarians actually choose both. They are serious about being the alternative to Trump and whoever he picks (please, let it be either Gingrich or Palin--the laughs will keep coming all the way to Election Day!) Too bad neither will meet the approval of William Kristol; the Libertarians are insufficiently hawkish and interventionist for his taste. He'd be better off with Hillary Clinton, but he'll never admit it. No wonder liberals call him "Captain Always Wrong."
As if on cue, CNN interviewed Weld on Sunday, just as they did Gary Johnson two weeks ago.

Today on CNN's State of the Union, Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and Libertarian Vice Presidential Candidate, joined Jake Tapper to discuss his comparison between Trump and the Holocaust, gun control and more.
I still think 2016 could be a good year for minor party candidates and so does CNN.

MSNBC does as well.  The Sunday before, Chuck Todd interviewed Gary Johnson in the context of Calls For Alternative Candidates Grows.

Can Republicans rally around Donald Trump as the convention draws near or will disaffected Republicans seek an alternative option in November? Former GOP New Mexico Governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson weighs in.
The Libertarian convention is this weekend.  Stay tuned for the results.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 travels to Tulsa and Dayton

I concluded Solar Impulse 2 lands in Phoenix with a vague program note.
As for the plane's next stop, The Daily Mail reported "The solar-powered plane, which stores energy in batteries for when the sun is not shining, will make several stops across the United States, although the team is still examining potential destinations."  In other words, they don't know yet.  Stay tuned.
While I was looking elsewhere, the Solar Impulse team decided on their next stops.  First, Solar Impulse 2 arrives in Tulsa from May 13th.

After a week, the news became Solar Impulse 2 Makes an impact on Tulsa.

Solar Impulse 2 left for Dayton Ohio Saturday morning, but not before making an impact in Tulsa.
Looks like the plane succeeded in the educational part of its mission.

Saturday, the Associated Press reported Solar Impulse Lands At Home of Wright Brothers.

Solar powered plane travels from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Dayton, Ohio overnight to land at the city that is proud to be the hometown of the Wright Brothers.
USA Today also pointed out the significance of the location, but also of the date, pointing out that it was the 89th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh landing in Paris after his solo trans-Atlantic flight.

As for the next stage, AFP via reported two more stops in the U.S. before flying over the Atlantic.
It may next fly to Pennsylvania as early as Tuesday, the team said. Its final destination in the United States is New York.
It could leave the day after tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

'Star Trek' trailers and news for a Sunday

I may geek out more about "Star Wars" on this blog than "Star Trek," but the universe of the United Federation of Planets and Star Fleet was my first science fiction media fandom.  As such, last week was a good week for me and others who share this particular enthusiasm.  First, Wednesday saw Star Trek Television Logo and First Look Teaser Revealed by CBS.

At the CBS Upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall in New York on May 18, CBS unveiled the logo for the new STAR TREK television series within the first-ever promotional video for the highly-anticipated program.
It's been more than a decade since "Star Trek: Enterprise" went off the air, resulting in no more new "Star Trek" on television.  The movies have had to fill the gap.  In fact, for once, the movies are leading the TV series.

Speaking of the movies, Paramount released Star Trek Beyond Trailer #2 on Friday.

To survive, they must go beyond. Watch the new trailer for Star Trek Beyond now!
Looks even more action-packed than the first two, which is saying something.  Then again, the director is the same one as for "Furious 7"; he knows how to film action.

The unveiling of the trailer saw more good news, as J.J. Abrams revealed Paramount is dropping their lawsuit against a Star Trek fan film, allowing it to live.

Aside from debuting the second trailer to the Justin Lin Directed Star Trek Beyond, JJ Abrams revealed to the Paramount's Star Trek event audience that CBS and Paramount Pictures would be dropping the lawsuit against Alec Peter, who was behind the upcoming fan film Star Trek Axanar. Abrams also let the crowd know that it was actually Beyond's Justin Lin who convinced Paramount and CBS to drop the suit. Usually fan-made projects are not a problem, but the assumption that most have come to is that because of the immense amount of crowdfunding that was done (over 600,000), the companies got uncomfortable with the project's large size.
Good news worthy of the series' fiftieth anniversary!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

WXYZ on rising gas prices for May

Here's a video I could have used for Gas down while oil is up for May 2016, Gas prices spike in metro Detroit from WXYZ.

Drivers in metro Detroit may have noticed gas prices spiking in the area by nearly 20 cents in some places.
That price rise is showing up only weakly at the stations in my old neighborhood.  GasBuddy shows that regular has risen from $2.27 to $2.32 for the corner station and $2.29 for the stations down the street.

The Wall Street Journal reported higher prices than last week, listing Friday's closes for WTI at $47.75 and Brent at $48.72, both higher than the $46.21 and $47.83 a week ago today .  The good news is that both are lower than yesterday's prices, which are still on Oil-Price.Net, $48.16 for WTI and $48.81 for Brent, which were only a few cents below their closes on Wednesday, the highest of the year, when WTI hit $48.95 and Brent hit $49.85.  Credit firefighters keeping the wildfire from Alberta's oil sands for that change in the direction of oil prices.

RBOB has also risen week over week from $1.58 at the end of April through $1.59 last week to $1.64 today.  Like crude oil, that's lower than its peak earlier this year at $1.66, a nine-month high.  

The decline at the end of the week in energy futures suggests that price increases will likely stall out next week, at least until the Memorial Day weekend.  That should come as good news after the Detroit average jumping more than a dime from last week's $2.24 to $2.35 while the US average climbed from $2.22 to $2.28 over the same period.  On and especially after Memorial Day, I expect the seasonal increase from driving season will push prices up regardless of the price of oil.  The only question is how fast and how high.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Last month the hottest April on record

When I last posted about climate, I had good news in the form of the Paris Agreement on Climate being signed on Earth Day.  Today, I have not so good news to report from Newsy: NASA Data Shows Last Month Was The Hottest April On Record.

New data from NASA shows last month was the hottest April ever recorded.

At 0.24 degrees Celsius hotter than the previous April record in 2010, it may not sound like that much. But many are arguing that's shattering records for climate statistics.

One expert told The Independent that soon-to-be-released data could show the last 12 months in a row have all beaten their respective records for hottest months.

And The Guardian noted if all variables stay consistent, a hottest year on record should only happen once every 150 years. Yet in the last 20 years or so, we've seen five record-breaking years.

Higher temperatures could lead to worse air and water quality, higher rates of asthma and the spread of illnesses passed by insects.

A lot of this extra heat is trapped in the oceans as well. Warmer water is posing both area-specific problems, like the massive bleaching of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and global problems, like rising sea levels.
ABC 7 in Denver put this record in context
.In April, the planet averaged 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the 20th century average.

That 1.1 degree difference marks the biggest departure in temperature for April, and fourth biggest departure when compared to the 1,636 months on record! The very recent months of March 2016, February 2016 and December 2015 are the only months to surpass that difference.
CNN shared the implications for the Paris Climate Agreement.
The data that just keeps getting worse has prompted scientists to declare a "climate emergency" and is already casting doubts on pledges made in the Paris agreement to keep temperature rises well below the 2 degrees Celsius that scientists say will have catastrophic consequences on the planet.

The agreement was hammered out in December but signed in record-breaking April, with the ambitious aim to cap temperature rises at 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.
I think 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average is already baked in and keeping the rise below 2 degrees will be a struggle.  That doesn't mean it isn't worth trying to make it happen, just that it will be difficult at best.  Wish us all luck; we'll need it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

WXYZ updated the Flint Water Crisis on Monday

After writing three entries about the Flint Water Crisis in April, I've been silent about it so for this month.  No more.  WXYZ posted three clips about the ongoing scandal to its YouTube channel on Monday, beginning with two that followed up on the Congressional inquiry into the matter.

First, Elijah Cummings wants to know more in Top member of Congress pressing Governor Snyder for answers.

One top member of Congress is pressing Governor Rick Snyder for answers on the Flint water crisis.
Here is the follow-up from later that night, Governor Snyder facing new questions over Flint water crisis.

It's not just Congress that is continuing to pursue the issue.  WXYZ reported on the results of two state investigations in New bombshell in Flint water crisis.

New information is leading to bombshell questions about the investigations into the Flint water crisis.
Looks like the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing, not that I disapprove of an independent investigation by the Michigan State Police.  Far from it. I trust their findings more than I do Schuette's.  He wants the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018 and doesn't want to do anything that might jeopardize it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mount St. Helens still active 36 years later

Today is the 36th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.  Last year, I posted a documentary about the eruption and the recovery of the land around the volcano 30 years later.  Today, I'm examining what the volcano is doing now.

I begin with CNN reporting Swarm of earthquakes strike Mount St. Helens.

In the past eight weeks, more than 130 small earthquakes have trembled beneath the surface of Mount St. Helens.
On the one hand, don't worry because the repressurized magma might not erupt for years.  On the other hand, worry because the volcano has been erupting for years already; it's just doing it relatively harmlessly. National Geographic explains in TIL: Mount St. Helens Has a Baby Volcano Inside It.

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens in Washington State erupted in the most explosive volcanic event in U.S. history. Fifty-seven people and countless animals died, a forest was leveled, and ash blanketed the region as far away as Minnesota.

The volcano remains active today, even as events are being held at the mountain to mark the 36th anniversary of the disaster. Proving that it still has power, over the past few years, Mount St. Helens has had "a baby volcano growing in its crater," says Stephanie Grocke, a volcanologist at the Smithsonian Institution and a National Geographic explorer.

Between 2004 and 2008, enough molten rock oozed out of the crater to pave a seven-lane highway from New York City to Portland, Oregon, notes Grocke. As such, the mountain remains a dangerous threat.

"The volcano is still living and breathing," says Grocke.
As I wrote last year, "An eruption like this won't cause the collapse of civilization, but it can certainly ruin a city.  Just ask the Romans."  Fortunately, Portland is far enough away to avoid the fate of Pompeii--I hope.